regional growth

Kenya: National park revenue to boost local economies

By Victor Abuso

Posted on August 24, 2023 13:13

Maasai are the stewards of the national park and grazing animals is beneficial to the wildlife (Photo: Robert Bociaga)
Maasai are the stewards of the national park and grazing animals is beneficial to the wildlife (Photo: Robert Bociaga)

Although outlined in the constitution, the Maasai and other indigenous communities have not financially benefited from tourism in Kenya as expected.

On 22 August, President William Ruto announced that 50% of all collected revenues from national parks and game reserves would go to host communities to achieve equitable distribution of resources.

“Ruto wants to win Maasai community support ahead of the 2027 polls,” says political analyst Edwin Kegoli.

“The constitution provides guidelines on how to distribute resources and the challenge has remained in its implementation,” he told The Africa Report.

According to Article 202 of the constitution on equitable sharing of national revenue, all revenue raised nationally shall be shared equitably among the national and county governments. So far, the problem has been in the implementation, with corruption eroding revenue available at the community level.

The constitution further states that county governments may be given additional allocations from the national government’s share of the revenue, either conditionally or unconditionally.

Lofty promises

“I have directed that all revenues be divided equally between counties and the national government,” Ruto said in a speech delivered at the Maasai Mara National Reserve, marking the launch of the community’s annual cultural festival.

“You have demonstrated beyond doubt that you have the capacity to manage the resources,” he added.

Kajiado Governor Joseph Ole Lenku, from the opposition coalition Azimio la Umoja, and other Maasai leaders, welcomed the unexpected announcement, which means they will now benefit from the national park that sits on their land.

The announcement actualises the directive that had been made by former President Mwai Kibaki, who awarded the park to the community as a reward for acknowledging their decision to offer land. The transition process will now be undertaken jointly by the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage and the Kajiado county government.

Amboseli National Park, one of the largest in Kenya, will also soon become fully managed by the Kajiado government.


Human rights activists in Tanzania have been posting Ruto’s photos on their social media pages, praising his announcement, which they believe sends a strong message to President Samia Suluhu over the continued harassment of Tanzania Maasais.

Last year, the Tanzanian government’s efforts to displace the Maasai in Ngorongoro encountered substantial protests, both within the local region and on an international scale. Beneath the chants of the Maasai opposing the eviction is a call for governmental reforms, transparency, and accountability.

In an article published on 30 August last year in The Africa Report, Abdul Halim in Dar es Salaam wrote that the government said its motivation is to protect the Ngorongoro area from the increasing number of Maasais who are endangering tourism and agricultural activities.

Responding to Ruto’s statement, Onesmo Olengurumwa, another Tanzanian Maasai activist, said on his X account: “Ruto declared the Maasai community in Kenya as traditional conservators of nature.”

Tanzanian authorities have been accused by human rights defenders, locally and internationally, of forcefully evicting the Maasai’s from their ancestral land in Ngorongoro to make way for trophy hunters and tourists.

However, the Tanzanian government denies this, saying it is demarcating the area after it reached an agreement with the locals to reserve part of the land for them, and the rest for conservation.

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